I read this quote yesterday from Martin Lloyd-Jones. I’m guessing we all could use this reminder from time to time.
I say that we must talk to ourselves instead of allowing “ourselves” to talk to us!…Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you…The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: “Why are you cast down” -and say to yourself: “Hope in God”-instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged himself to do.
*D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), 20-21
Since Saturday I’ve had quite a few interactions with people giving me reason to ponder this question: How is it some people die happy and others don’t?
I say since Saturday because that’s the day some of our church family gathered to remember the life of Buna Brannon. She lived a full life. And I’m not just referring to her age of 84. Buna lived a full life because she chose to live it to its fullest.
By the time I met Mrs. Buna, she was already retired, 76 years of age. Nothing kept her down. Not illness. Not emotions. Not people. She made a choice to live life how she wanted, not how others wanted. And the foundation of that choice was her faith, how she understood God wanted her to live. And because of that faith, she lived happily, joyfully, actively, and extremely generously. And that’s also how she died. Until days before her living was done, she gave to others and thought of others which brought her joy, peace, and purpose. She had lived life in such a way that she was more than ready to leave it as she lived it.
However you live is probably how you’re going to die. It’s sad to watch people live unlike how they probably want to die. Angry. Depressed. Judging. Discontent. Proud. Buna made the choice to live with joy, with hard work, with purpose, and with love. And that’s what everyone will remember about her. She died how she lived.
If you want to die happily, live happily.
If you want to die sacrificially, live sacrificially.
If you want to die peacefully, live peacefully.
If you want to die regretless, live regretless.
The choice is clearly all yours.
“How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalms 1:1-3 HCSB
The symbolism of the tree brings deeper understanding to truths about happiness.
- A tree is dependent on the order of creation in order to grow and complete its purpose. Happiness is founded in reliance on our Creator.
- A tree goes through seasons. Happiness doesn’t have to be contained to just the fruit-bearing times.
- A tree is nourished by other means than itself. Happiness involves being connected to the rest of God’s creation.
- A tree stays in one place. Happiness can largely be found in knowing your God-given purpose and living it out.
You were created – you are not an accident, an afterthought nor an experiment
You were created by God – just like everything and everyone
You were created uniquely – DNA
You were created with purpose – without flippancy but with design
You were created for a purpose – like a puzzle piece, a body part, a team member
Your purpose is found through relation with your Creator – no one knows you better
Your happiness is found through experiencing your Creator’s purpose for you – all other sources will fail
Your happiness and purpose are not found by blindly following the same sources and directions as the masses – you are not a clone
As a uniquely, purposefully created being, find your happiness by not living like a clone but by pursuing knowing and experiencing your Creator through a growing relationship.